Will Cohu's bittersweet memoir begins with an evocative description of the Yorkshire moors in winter, where a blizzard comes howling down Danby Dale, engulfing his grandparents' home, Bramble Carr, and its environs, in drifts of pure white snow; and it is these childhood winters, the author tells us, that were the beginning of his love affair with the North Yorks Moors. Will Cohu then goes on to tell the reader how his grandfather, George, and his grandmother, Dorothy, drawn to the beauty and bleakness of the moors, move to Bramble Carr, a sandstone late-Victorian house, in the mid 1960s. This remote little house becomes Will's second home during school holidays - a home Will longs for whilst he is away and feeling unhappy at boarding school. The author tells us how he remembers George sitting at the kitchen table, smoking his pipe and doing 'The Times' crossword, whilst Dorothy would be baking bread, sponge cakes and Bakewell tarts, or would perhaps be painting moorland scenes in her preferred medium of oil paint: "At times, the kitchen was a little cultural salon, which is - I think - what Dorothy wanted to create, a small piece of Bohemia in a cold part of Yorkshire." However, as cosy as this scene may appear, the reader soon learns that under this seemingly settled surface lies anger, guilt, jealousy and resentment. And, as we read on, we learn that it is not only Will's grandparents who have their problems, for we also discover that Will's parents are not compatible, and they too have difficulties in their marriage which, of course, impacts on Will and his siblings.
As the author continues the story of his relations, their lives and the lives of some of those around them, we discover family secrets and deceptions, we witness scenes of violence and bullying, and we meet death, depression, drink problems, despair and suicide. In fact in the first few pages of this book, the author tells the reader that during the course of writing the first draft, his mother had a near fatal stroke, his father was diagnosed with cancer, he filed for divorce and both of his beloved dogs died. This book, therefore, could not be described as a light and happy read - but it is no misery memoir either, for the author has not written this memoir in self-pity, but more as a vehicle to examine his family in an attempt to better understand them and, importantly, to better understand himself. So although poignant and, in places, a heart-rending tale, this is not an unremittingly depressing read, and this is due to the author including a cast of interesting and unusual real-life characters and some very atmospheric descriptions of situation and setting - but do be prepared for a very honest account and a bittersweet and sometimes painful reading experience.